Known as Switzerland of Pakistan, the beautiful valley of Swat has a combination of seven distinctive features that is hard to find together in any tourists’ destination of Pakistan is all set to attract an influx of tourists and adventure sports enthusiasts during winter season.
Besides being a home to primitive Gandhara civilization, the Swat’s unique features including ice skiing, river rafting, adventure sports, snow-clad mountains peaks, trout-fish and Swat motorway has made it ideal destinations for winter tourism.
These distinctive characteristics, which are second to none in any other district of the country, draw adventure sportsmen, archeologists, water rafters, mountaineers, snowfall lovers, foodies, and eco-tourists throughout the year following construction of Swat Motorway that opened up Malakand division for winter tourism.
The 150-kilometer long fresh water of the river Swat originating from different glaciers lakes including Mahodand and Gabral mountains offer unique opportunities for adventure sports’ enthusiasts to explore in a single trip along with loved ones.
Fazagut, Fatehpur, Barikot and Chakdara are most suitable for water rafting in river Swat and if developed on modern lines could attract a large number of tourists during winter.
Bestowed with more than 50 high altitude small and big lakes, Swat’s Mahodand lake is an exceptional source of attraction for tourists enjoying its blue- waters and boats riding amid cold breezes and snowfalls.
“I came from Nowshera to enjoy Swat’s trout fish and explore the mesmerizing natural beauty of Kalam especially of Mahudhand lake,” said Riaz Khan, a former PST teacher while talking to APP. Impressed by the beauty of Mahudand and Gabrial lakes, he said its unique charm, clean air and nearby birds chanting valleys take tourists into a lap of serene. He advised tourists to bring warm clothes and sweaters while coming to Upper Swat these days in the wake of chilly weather.
Besides its famous Deodar trees and precious wildlife, the Swat’s snow-clad tall mountains ranges of Falakser, Mankial and Elum peaks offer great challenges to mountaineers and trekkers to explore especially during winter. Likewise, its extensive plains and orchards that bear fruits and vegetables carried a unique comparative advantage.
Attracting Bhuddists, monks and archaeologists from across the world throughout the year, the Swat’s archaeological treasures and ancient artifacts housed at Saidu Sharif Museum become a distinctive feature taking tourists to the glorious history of Swat.
The most celebrated monk from Thailand, Arayawangso along with 20 disciples has recently visited different Buddhist sites of Swat including Saidu Sharif Museum and Stupa besides Buthkara Buddhist monastery that impressed him a lot. He said Swat was very important in terms of Buddhist history in Pakistan and must be visited by followers of Bhuddism from all around the world to explore.
Another striking feature of Swat is skiing sports being played at Malam Jabba every year during winter. Trout fish also attract foodies amid heavy snowfall at Kalam, Madain and other areas of the district.
Malik Luqman, senior planning officer, KP tourism department told APP that a mega project costing Rs238 million was prepared for organizing different winter sports and tourism events in various districts including Swat.
He said Kalam’s winter gala and tour-de-cycle race would be organized in December-January in Swat while first-ever sports rafting at River Swat would be held besides an international paragliding event at Saidu Sharif. He said a youth leadership conference and skiing event at Malam Jabba was also planned.
To reduce tourists’ load at Kalam, Malam Jabba and Bahrian, he said new tourists’ spots would be developed at Sola Tanar, Puchar and Jargo valleys while walking tracks would be developed to promote ecotourism in Swat.
To maintain natural beauty and avoid pollution at tourist spots in Swat, he said camping pods would be established at new tourists’ destinations besides Kalash culture events in Chitral. To link new tourist destination with Swat Motorway, he said that Rs4.8 billion were being spent on development and construction of new roads while tourism police was made operational at Malakand and Hazara divisions to facilitate tourists.
Luqman said the tourism budget has been swelled to Rs8.6 billion during 2022-23 while work on the world bank’s assisted KP Integrated Tourism Project costing Rs17 billion was underway in the province. He said that construction of 15 jeepable tracks were also proposed in Malakand and Hazara divisions. He said the six tourists’ facilitation centers were established and works on seven others started.
He said that a Rs365 million project for feasibility studies for identification of new tourists’ spots was planned.
To promote ecotourism in southern districts of KP, he said that a road to Sheikh Badin tourist resort located at confluence of DI Khan and Lakki Marwat districts would be constructed with an estimated cost of Rs3 billion while a tourist wing for merged areas was being established to monitor and oversee tourism related activities there.